Keeping Time

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Saturday morning. Early. Baby brother is sleeping. Dad is building a house. The woods are beckoning, longing to be revived by the foot-to-path, the mouth-to-mouth that I provide every Saturday. For hours. Exploring, building dams in the creeks. Catching crawdads. Lying on the bank as still as the owl, with hope as strong as time that a dragonfly (we called them snake doctors) would land on me. They were deep neon green and had black wings. They were everywhere. I dug for wild cucumbers that matured underground. Finding them, I washed them in the creek, sprinkled them with wild pepper seeds and ate. And ate. Running endlessly to find the end of the forest, to find that place where the sun was headed. Only to be shepherded back by a singular voice. A voice that carried through the leaves and over the rushing waters and found its way to me. "Dinner!" It sang.

But that morning, before the day's adventures were unfolded like fresh linens, Mom was at the piano. The Baptist Hymnal presided over the ministrations of her nimble fingers. Even when she ventured to Dolly, Loretta, Don Williams and The Everly Brothers. Especially when she hiked further and found Jerry Lee, Charlie Rich, and Willie Nelson. I began my travels at her feet, pushing the pedals with my hands. I eventually found my way to the bench, where I watched. Listened. She could sing the angels to sleep as well as she could cause the devil to dance.

The progression continued as I was kidnapped by a desire that has never relinquished its hold on me. I stood beside her and learned to harmonize vocally, then with my fingers on the keys. Older still, I sat beside her again, and we played for others. Together. Sang for others. Together. Then, I sang for her. I played for her. Until time could be kept no longer, as if it ever could. Until now. I visit and hear the request. And I will play. Sometimes. Not as much, for somewhere the magic became something different. Became something that doesn't exist when she is there. Repressed. Jaded. So much more than simply water under that bridge.

The music is still magic, though. She is still Mom. She still sings and plays. She still amazes me. I should tell her that more often. I should play for her more often. I should wake up Saturday morning and run through that forest until I find the words. Until that dragonfly lands. Until that forest ends, and I come out on the other side, beautifully broken. Until everyone can see where the son is headed. Keeping time again.
I should.

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